San Francisco, 1967 is a place of peace and love. The hippie
movement is in full swing and everyone is looking forward
to the ultimate festival: the Human Be-in. Summer, however,
has lost her boyfriend, and fears he has become a victim of
a new drug nicknamed Blue Moonbeams. Will three English tourists
- Ben, Polly and the Doctor - be able to help...?
I wonder what this story would have been called if it had
really been made during the Patrick Troughton era of the Doctor
Who television series. The Hippies perhaps? Hmmm,
perhaps not - that title conjures horrid visions of Star
Trek's dreadful foray into hippie culture, The Way
to Eden. In fact, this tale could never have been told
in the black and white era of the show, and not just because
the monster of the piece is a psychedelic Colour-Beast.
makes this story such a controversial one for Doctor Who
is its honest and well-researched depiction of a drug culture.
Remember the hoo-ha when Kate Orman's debut New Adventure,
The Left-handed Hummingbird, had the Seventh Doctor taking
a mind-altering drug (albeit for a very good reason)? I doubt
that Mark Chadbourn's book will cause such a stir, since Orman
well and truly broke the ice, but it is surprising and refreshing
to see the Doctor taking a non-judgemental stance on the use
of hallucinogens. He points out the fundamental connection
between drug use and religious experience in cultures as diverse
as the ancient Egyptians and the Aztecs.
is not to say that Chadbourn advocates the over-use of addictive
substances. The first-person perspective of the hippie Summer
acknowledges, in some disillusioned flash-forwards, that they
can be harmful. And, of course, one of the main plot elements
is the danger posed by the "bad acid" that is Blue Moonbeams.
Appropriately enough, some hallucinogenic descriptions of
weird events permeate the narrative, even when Summer is stone-cold
That hip chick Polly fits right into San Francisco, 1967.
The endearingly square Ben is more of a fish out of water,
but Summer perceives that his heart is in the right place,
especially when physical action is required. The Second Doctor
is also well characterised, harking back to Troughton's earliest
episodes in which the Time Lord was often as irritatingly
distant as he was eccentric.
be put off by the more controversial aspects of this novella
- it's, like, cool, man.